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Once more unto the Bay, dear 'Hounds: Vancouverites looking for SF bites

Thanks so much for the recommendation for La Ciccia!!! I loved the food there and will definitely be heading back there the next time we visit SF.

The pork knuckle wasn't bad. I have to admit that I was a tiny bit disappointed b/c it looked so good rolling around on the rotisserie. In the spirit of full disclosure, I think the knuckles were *just* about ready when I ordered mine. The guy had to stick the thermometer in a few of the knuckles before he found one to his satisfaction. I loved the crispy skin and sticky fatty underlayer. I tried to let the knuckle rest for a while, but the skin was too tempting and ended up burning my fingers a couple of times. The meat was a bit tough, but I think this had to do more with the "just ready" factor and would probably have had better texture had I ordered the knuckle an hour later. Let's just say that a hot pork knuckle isn't the easiest to cut with a wimpy plastic fork, and it's too large to gnaw on like a drumstick. The knuckle wasn't very seasoned and didn't taste all that different from the porchetta. I think I was also a bit disappointed b/c of my high expectations...I was hoping the knuckle would have the same sort of crunchy, sticky, fall apart goodness as a roasted pig's foot. All in all, I think I'd try the knuckle again for the crispy skin, but if I only had $10 in my wallet, I'd spend it on chicken :o)

Once more unto the Bay, dear 'Hounds: Vancouverites looking for SF bites

Hi grayelf, just got back from a weekend in SF! Had a fanastic dinner at La Ciccia (I remember reading it in one of your posts from a while ago - big thank you to you and whoever recommended La Ciccia to you!) on Saturday night - gizzards with prosciutto and mushrooms to start, linguine with petrale sole, gnocchini with pork sugo, and lamb with mushrooms. This place is as good or better than La Buca! Friday's dinner was at Canteen (fantastic as always), Saturday's lunch was roast chicken, porchetta and pork knuckle from Roli Roti at Ferry Market. Snacks in between included a croque madame from Cafe de la Presse (we usually stay at the Orchard Garden across the street), egg tarts from Golden Gate Bakery, napoleons and cannolis from Mara's, tacos from La Taqueria, bread pudding and croissants from Tartine. Our last meal was an unplanned walk up at Delfina yesterday. Not bad ,but I much preferred my meal at La Ciccia. Included in my carry-on to Vancouver? Trail mix and almond brittle from G. Alfieri, a dozen egg tarts from GG bakery, and coconut and banana cream tarts from Tartine (a very nice waiter at SFO's Mission Bar stashed my tarts in the bar fridge during the 3-hour delay!). Hope you have a fantastic trip next month! :o)

Cuts like a knife, and it feels so right: where to sharpen your beloved blades in Vancouver

Hey jim, there's nothing wrong with a Vancouverite trying to show some support for a hometown artist! Let's try to focus comments on food-related topics. No need to bash a fellow Chowhounder's taste in music.

Best bread in Vancouver

I'm in love with Mix's campagna bread. So good!

Good eats in Chilliwack?

I don't have a suggestion for Chilliwack, but how about a 15 minute drive to Abbotsford? Restaurant 62 is worth checking out. Jeff Massey, the chef/owner, worked at Cioppino's, Coast and Glowbal before opening his own place.

Family Style Vancouver West Side

I find Apollonia hit and miss. I've had some great and mediocre meals there. I've had two great family style meals at La Buca in the last month. It'll run you $50-55 per person, but you'll get a lot of food. I agree with grayelf that Grub is probably a bit too small. I've had large group lunch/dinner at Mistral Bistro on Broadway/Trafalgar, where they've prepared family-style appetizers, salads and dessert, but everyone got their choice of main course. This isn't on the west side, but how about Campagnolo on Main/Terminal? I'm sure they'd be able to do da family style meal, and their wine bar in the back would be great for a group of 14.

Source of excellent pig in Vancouver

International Sausage House on Gilmore and Halifax has good fresh and cured meats. They also sell pork cracklings as snacks! Kind of like pork jerky with crispy fat on it. It's great with a light sprinkling of salt and a couple of minutes in the toaster oven.

Cioffi's has great Berkshire pork ribs. They're frozen, but fantastic :o)

Campagnolo, Vancouver – no bumpkins here

Thanks for the review, grayelf! I checked out Campagnolo last week, too! I sat at the bar for a couple of drinks before dinner. The bar manager was super nice, and they had a great selection of Italian wines by the glass. I tried the pate di campagna (tasty), margherita pizza (I didn't like it that much but mind you, I'm a fan of thin crust pizza and I found their crust to be a tad too doughy), tagliarini with pork ragu (this was my favourite of the evening), penne (good), and Sloping Hills roast pork (perfectly done). I also had the fagioli and polenta! The pork rind on my fagioli was crispy goodness. I also had the olive cake, which I really liked, and the panna cotta, which was I found disappointing and nowhere near as good as the one served at La Buca.

Like grayelf, I'm also a huge La Buca fan and ate dinner there this week. Waver, here are my thoughts on Campagnolo vs. La Buca. Campagnolo focuses on Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna regions of Italy, and La Buca's menu has food from a bunch of Italian regions. The prices at La Buca are steeper, but the servings are larger, and I find the cooking to be more refined. I'm not sure how to describe this, but the food/flavours at La Buca seem to come together better? I found a few of the dishes we tried at Campagnolo to be oddly flat, but then again, the restaurant's only a month old. Service at La Buca is better and more knowledgeable, but Campagnolo's doing a good job and everyone I talked to was super excited to be working there. The grissini at Campagnolo is outstanding and La Buca only has standard issue breadsticks :o) I'd definitely eat at Campagnolo again, but if someone were to offer to take me out to dinner, I'd still choose La Buca.

The neighbourhood is slightly sketchy, but not scary. And there's plenty of free parking!

Ovaltine Cafe, Vancouver

I had breakfast at the Ovaltine for the first time, a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty good! I had a couple of eggs, sausages, hash browns and toast. I can't remember what the bill came out to, but it was really cheap. A cup of tea was $1. The decor/ambience is old school and run down diner, but it's clean inside. There are signs that say that you have to pay before you get your food - guess it goes with the neighbourhood :o)

Has anyone tried anything that's not on the breakfast menu? They have steak on their menu for something ridiculously cheap, like $6.99.

I've had it with Highgate Bakery in Burnaby!

It's called Middlegate Bakery. This place has been here for ages. It was around when Highgate used to be Middlegate. It's one of those bakeries like Valley Bakery on Hastings. Things are generally meh, but people seem to like it and they get steady business.

Recommendations for Steak and Frites in Vancouver?

How about Mistral Bistro? They have steak frites sometimes. Maybe Bistrot Bistro, too. If you're ever in Victoria, try Brasserie L'Ecole. Yum!

Joyce Jiaozi - Northern Chinese Specialties (Vancouver)

Ooooh. Chive pockets!. Fmed, what was the filling made of? Chives and egg? Glass noodles? Tofu? All of the above?

Five Nights in Vancouver - RESULTS

Wow, great report. I'm glad you had mostly positive experiences. Go Fish is one of my favourite places for lunch. If you ever take a side trip to Victoria on one of your visits up here, check out Red Fish Blue Fish. Same idea as Go Fish - good fish n chips, great view of the Inner Harbour, but the slaw's not as good. www.redfish-bluefish.com.

please help a friend recovering from surgery who is desperate for congee

I don't think the secret is in technology. My conspiracy theory? I think the secret lies in the generous use of (mystery) fat and cornstarch. Whenever I get take out congee, there's always a filmy greasy residue left on the take out container. When I make my own congee, there's never a greasy residue, even when I pour the leftovers into a ziploc container. I'm resigned to the fact that my congee will never compete with the greasy goodness of restaurant congee!

please help a friend recovering from surgery who is desperate for congee

Kwong Chow definitely serves congee at night. I've gone there for years for my late night congee fix. Boneless chicken and mushroom is my favourite. I think Kwong Chow's open til 2am.

I hope Congee Noodle House reopens soon. I hate it when restaurants close for a "reno" and never come back.

Good chinese in Burnaby?

Thanks for the update, Yogilo. I'll have to check out PK's dim sum one of these weekends. Good to know it's much cleaner than Big Lai :)

Royal Victoria Marathon Weekend

I just came back from the BEST weekend in Victoria! I was supposed to run the half marathon but pulled out due to a bad case of shin splints. I still decided to go to Victoria to cheer on my husband and friends, though. And while I wasn't able to participate in running the half marathon, I was fully able to participate in an eating marathon!

We arrived Friday night and had a great dinner at Brasserie L'Ecole - parmasean and truffle fries, Quadra Island mussels, steak frites (my steak was perfectly done!), and veal medallions with a celery root, leek and potato gratin. It was the best steak frites I've had in ages.

We were in the mood for an after-dinner cocktail and the owner of Brasserie L'Ecole recommended a place across the street, called Solomon's (http://solomons.ca/). Solomon (the owner and bartender) opened his restaurant/bar about two months ago. The have a fantastic cocktail menu and also have sampler menus for scotch and vodka. All the juices that go into the cocktails are freshly squeezed, and their carbonated drinks aren't served from a soda gun. Instead, Solomon serves drinks like G&Ts deconstructed - gin over ice in a glass, accompanied by an unbelievably cute baby bottle of Fentiman's tonic. (http://www.fentimans.com/range.php). The drinks I had a Solomon's were on par with the ones I've had at Cascade, Boneta and George and were a friendlier price!

Had brunch at Willie's the next morning. My husband's omelette was perfectly done. I ordered eggs Blackstone (poached eggs over tomato, bacon and cheddar, served on a brioche toast with home fries). I think the ingredients were really good quality, but all prepared in advance, and unfortunately when they put my order together, the brioche was cold, as was the bacon, and the eggs and potatoes were lukewarm at best. I sent the order back and the second order was only marginally warmer. It was super busy and I think the kitchen was just overwhelmed. Our waiter was super nice and totally apologetic and comp'd us our (freshly squeezed and very excellent) orange juice.

Saturday's dinner was at Zambri's. We had mussels (very tasty, but not as good as Brasserie L'Ecole's), penne with duck ragu (really good), gnocchi with gorgonzola cream and peas, and a terrific crispy roasted pork shoulder. The pork shoulder was crispy outside, but melt in your mouth tender inside. Delicious!

Today's lunch was at Red Fish Blue Fish - Victoria's version of Go Fish, but with more tacones! I had the Qualicum Beach scallop tacone, and a tempura cod tacone. The scallop tacone was the highlight of my day today!

It was one of the most delicious weekends I've had in recent memory, and I just had to share!

Good chinese in Burnaby?

Has anyone tried Po King on Kingsway, near Imperial? Apparently, the owners are the same as the former Big Lai Palace? I'm a bit wary of trying it out, as the only memories I have of Big Lai are bad service and that the place was generally unclean, and health inspectors had to write them up for a rash of violations.

Cioffi's Butcher Shop

I haven't seen them sell the dry aged beef yet. I seem to keep missing it! I'll see it in the window aging, but the butchers will tell me it's not quite ready and to swing by in however many days, and I keep forgetting! I'm not sure how much of the dry aged stuff they sell for retail, and how much of it goes to Cioffi's restaurant clients.

Thanks for the tip on Moccia's! I'll definitely check it out!

Your top splurges in Vancouver?

I loooooove La Buca, too! It's high on my rotation of go-to places.

Saw from another post that you're going to SF soon. Lucky! Have you tried A16? I've had great meals there and not so great. They're not as consistent as La Buca, but it's apparently Andrey Durbach's favourite Italian restaurant in SF.

Cioffi's Butcher Shop

I was reading greyelf's post on Sea Harbour and there was a mention of pork belly, which reminded me to post something about Cioffi's butcher shop.

Cioffi's opened their butcher shop almost a month ago and every time I go back, there's more cool stuff. Rino Cioffi and the guys behind the counter are super nice and have great suggestions on what cuts of meat to buy, and how to prepare them. In addition to the meats that Cioffi's has always had, they're going to try to offer more organic and free range choices.

Some neat stuff that I spotted yesterday... pork belly, pork rind, boneless beef shortribs (I braised some recently when the weather took a turn - yum!), Berkshire pork ribs, frozen duck breast and foie gras, free range turkey, free range organic eggs. They also have a couple of sides of beef dry aging in the window!

Cioffi's deli is located at 4156 Hastings Street, in Burnaby and Cioffi's butcher shop is located two store fronts west of that, in what used to be Helen's.

Your top splurges in Vancouver?

Great game, greyelf! Here are some of my picks:

Cioppino's
Parkside
La Buca (family style 6+ course chef's menu)
Il Giardino
Rodney's or Blue Water (oysters are pricey little suckers)
Vij's
Fuel
Morton's (for a double porterhouse and football sized potato)

I know the next suggestion doesn't fit the "restaurant" bill, but since we're playing make believe on someone else's tab...

Cocktail party catered by Culinary Capers, followed by a dessert buffet made up of cakes, tarts and other goodies from Thomas Haas, Ganache, Sweet Obsessions and True Confections. Of course, this party would have an open bar, skillfully tended by the geniuses behind the bar at Cascade or George.

Best Vancouver Dim Sum?

I've had a number of bad experiences at Floata, mostly due to poor service. Floata's dim sum is nothing to write home about. If you're lucky enough to sit close to the door where the carts come out, then it's a decent experience. Otherwise, the food's usually lukewarm by the time it reaches other areas of the restaurant.

Five nights in Vancouver

Go Fish near Granville Island is a great place for lunch. Their seafood is sustainably fished. They have fish n chips, scallop burgers, fish tacos - all very good! There are a few good restaurants within a 10 minute drive of UBC. There's La Buca for Italian and Mistral Bistro or Bistrot Bistro for French. Ajisai in Kerrisdale has great sushi, and Zest on 16th and MacDonald is also very good. Golden Ocean, also in Kerrisdale, is a great place for Chinese.

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Golden Ocean Seafood Restaurant
2046 W 41st, Vancouver, BC V6M1Y8, CA

Go Fish Ocean Emporium
1505 W 1st Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J, CA

Ajisai HD Ltd
2081 42nd Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6M2B4, CA

Bistrot Bistro Ltd
1961 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M7, CA

one special dinner in Vancouver...

I second the recommendation for Parkside!

Good chinese in Burnaby?

Defintely check out Crystal Mall and Wang's. Au Wing Kee on Kingsway and Royal Oak for wonton, congee and noodles.

Good caterer in Vancouver?

Chef Christophe is also the co-owner of Northwest Culinary Academy, with Chef Tony Minichiello, who knows a lot about Italian food :o)

La Buca does a fantastic family-style dinner. Not sure if they do catering, though, but they're definitely worth a call.

Culinary Capers is a great caterer that uses a lot of local ingredients. Their servers are also really professional and provide excellent on-site service.

Roasted Tahini - who carries it?

Maybe check out Pars? They have a store in North Van and one near Lougheed Mall in Burnaby.

Vancouver: Which Venue for Biz Dinner?

Goldfish also has private rooms. I'm not a fan of their food, but the room is beautiful and service is pretty good.

Commercial Drive Vancouver - anything worth making the trek out there?

The gelato at Dolce Amore is worth the trek! :o)